Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Annette Lareau .. on Longitudinal Ethnography and the Families’ Reactions to Unequal Childhoods. ( pp. 1. Question and Answers: Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. University of California Press. What made you decide to write this. In her book, Unequal Childhoods, she explains that middle-class families raised their children in a different way than working-class and.

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Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life

Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau. Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children.

Drawing on in-depth observations of black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families, Unequal Childhoods explores this fact, offering a picture of childhood today. Here are the frenetic families managing their children’s hectic schedules of “leisure” activities; and here are families Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children. Here are the frenetic families managing their children’s hectic schedules of “leisure” activities; and here are families with plenty of time but little economic security.

Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of “concerted cultivation” designed to draw out children’s talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on “the accomplishment of natural growth,” in which a child’s development unfolds spontaneously—as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided. Each of these approaches to childrearing brings its own benefits and its own drawbacks. In identifying and analyzing differences between the two, Lareau demonstrates the power, and limits, of social class in shaping the lives of America’s children.

The first edition of Unequal Unesual was an instant classic, portraying in riveting detail the unexpected ways in which social class cyildhoods parenting in white and African-American families.

A decade later, Annette Lareau has revisited the same llareau and interviewed the original subjects to examine the impact of social class in the transition to adulthood. Paperbackpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Unequal Childhoodsplease sign up. Lists with This Book. May 03, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: Years ago, when I started on Good Reads, I read Outliers by Gladwell and one of the things I found particularly interesting in that book was the discussion of research into the differences between how working class and middle class kids behaved.

This book is the research that Gladwell based his chapter in Outliers on. This is a seriously interesting look at the differences between how working class and middle class raise their children and the consequences of these differences. Gladwell picks out a particularly telling incident in his use of this research — a working class boy and a middle class boy both preparing larreau go to see the doctor. In the case of the middle class boy his mother literally rehearses the likely exchange between the boy and the doctor in the car on the way there.

Because the boy has been brought up in a world where adults are more chhildhoods less at his beck and call, he has no trouble in challenging the doctor to explain himself more larea or in seeking additional information from him. The contrast with childhooods working class boy could not be starker, he defers entirely to the doctor, is barely able to make eye contact and certainly never does anything that might be understood as challenging the authority of the doctor.

In fact, the lives of middle class children are scheduled to such an extent that they are often exhausted. This is quite different from the childhokds class kids who often childhoids within their own communities and in groups of kids of many different ages. The other thing I found remarkably interesting was the observation that middle class kids frequently talked about how much they hated their annette, while this was never something the researchers observed in the working class kids.

The other interesting thing here was that middle class families never spoke about money.


The working class and poor children were constantly reminded about money and the shortage of it. Many of the middle class parents are remarkably specific about these demands and the advantages the various activities they organise for their children provide them with for their futures.

Even sports are seen in this light — as training grounds for team work, learning how to deal with both success and failure, being focused on performance, connecting effort to reward and so on. There is a lovely part where a father and son are talking about comic book heroes and the son needs to justify what he has said about various characters with reference to the various texts.

That is, something identical to what will be expected of him at school. Needless to say, such a conversation was never observed in a working class family.

Basil Bernstein made very similar observations in relation to working class and middle class kids in England in the s. Middle class parents therefore encouraged their children to develop their language skills, taught them how to construct a reasoned argument and provided them with a sense that they were entitled to ask for things they needed or wanted.

This book really is fascinating and deserves to be read. View all 13 comments. Sep 30, Caroline rated it really liked it Shelves: I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the issues that I myself had observed through my student teaching.

This book was assigned to me during graduate school while I was transitioning from one student teaching assignment to the other. Parents show I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the issues that I myself had observed through my student teaching. Parents showed up for every meeting, every conference, every activity and there were a lot of those. After school, kids skipped off to Hebrew school or CCD, soccer practice, piano lessons, private math enrichment tutoring, and whatever else their parents could dream up.

My second student teaching practicum was in Washington Heights in a largely Hispanic school. Parents sent kids to school with candy as their lunch not in their lunch, that was lunch. After school, kids went home to watch tv. If they were in the after-school care program, they had 30 minutes to do their homework, then they played out in the parking lot next to the school which served as their playground people were kind enough to not park there during school hours.

I often found myself wondering why parents treated their kids so differently. I couldn’t believe that it was strictly because of a particular culture of any given race there were Black kids in my room on the Upper East Side and White kids in my room in Washington Heights.

When I read this book, the fact of socioeconomic status difference just made childhhoods to me. Socioeconomic status lraeau currently far more segregating than race is, giving each culture room to create its own strategies for raising children without influence from a different culture. I appreciated that Lareau was sensitive to issues of race, and therefore highlighted an upper-middle class family that was Black, and a working class family that was White to drive the point home that these differences aren’t just about race.

As a teacher, I found that this illuminated for me the places where my parents struggle in helping to meet the demands of education today it is no anneyte acceptable, as it childhoofs once have been to just assume that children will get everything that they need.

I now feel better equipped to inform parents about things that they can do to help their child succeed, while still being sensitive to the culture their children are being raised in. I guess I gave it four stars rather than five because, although it had great take-away, it was a bit dry. On the other hand, not every nonfiction book can be Freakonomics. Jan 18, Manzoid rated it really liked it.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part shows the hectic schedule of organized activities that middle-class children engage in, with parents especially moms heavily involved, whereas poorer children’s activities are much more disengaged from their parents.

The second part describes differences in language use between middle-class families and poorer families. The third part shows the class differences as parents try to intercede on their children’s behalf with school authorities. The close-up stories are pretty fascinating, and the conclusions are not quite what you might expect. For example, one common observation of poorer families was that siblings stuck up for each other and were kinder to each other, whereas siblings in middle-class families were much crueler, ruder, and more competitive with each other.


Don’t know if that’s obvious to you, but that surprised me. There are other observations like that, making this book definitely worth a read.

One caveat — the author is really repetitive. For some reason she feels the need to reiterate her main themes during and after every section. You’ll quickly learn to skim past these boring repetitive segments. Dec 10, Lynn rated it it was amazing. This is a book that I keep returning to. I’ve decided to have my qualitative research methods class read it for Spring Of course I love that it deals with differences in family life as they relate to social class, but I am also amazed at its thoroughness, sensitivity, and scope.

One of the book’s key insights is that young people who grow up in upper middle class households laresu be better prepared to argue for their own way within the school systems, but they are also socialized into a trou This is a book that I keep returning to. One of the book’s key insights is that young people who grow up in upper middle class households may be better prepared to argue for their own way within the school systems, but they are also socialized into a troubling individualism and sense of larfau through our responsiveness.

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau

On the other hand, young people from working class households grow up prepared to subsume their own needs to those around them. This is a great value for annerte life, but it works against them within the individualistic, meritocratic school system.

The book is therefore a great antidote to the many educational studies that seem to normalize the middle class experience as the ideal and too often see impoverished communities as troubled and lacking in their culture. The book doesn’t idealize working class backgrounds, but actually adds theoretical and empirical heft to Paul Willis’ classic of a generation ago, Learning to Labor: Sep 12, Christine rated it really liked it Shelves: Everyone thinks they understand the concept of inequality, whether based on economic standing, race, education or environment.

But do we really understand? When children are enrolled in the same public school system, theoretically have access to the same extra-curricular activities and the same social safety nets, why is there still such a discrepancy.

Lareau explored these issues in her in-depth study of 12 third-graders from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Lareau and h Everyone thinks they understand the concept of inequality, whether based on economic standing, race, education or environment. For the purpose of snnette study Ms. Her findings and conclusions were interesting and sometimes a little disturbing, but truthfully, not all that surprising.

This book is not childhooxs type of book Kareau would reach for on a bookshelf, but a friend whose opinion on books, among other things, I value and trust posted an excellent review on Goodreads http: When I finished reading his review I started thinking back to when I was raising my daughters and began mentally ticking off the study criteria and conclusions he mentioned in his review. Going into the book with that as my sole focus I think my impressions of the book are a chidhoods different from someone who may be reading this for educational purposes.

I understand that this was an ethnological study and thereby needs clear demographic boundaries. From my perspective I could relate to many of the issues that were discussed in this book and that made it extremely interesting to read.

Not because her conclusions were incorrect according to her study, or because they painted such a drastic discrepancy between the classes of children, but because she was being statistical and analytical and I was being emotional.

That could not be unequa, I started reading this book with a personal agenda.